Improved Patent Magneto-Electric Machine For Nervous Diseases

Improved Patent Magneto-Electric Machine For Nervous Diseases

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Ari Davis (ca. 1811-1855) was a skilled American craftsman who received two patents in 1854. One (#10,788 of April 18) described a machine for producing wooden boxes with metal-reinforced dovetail corners. The other (#11,415 of August 1) described a magneto-electric machine. While this second patent was still in process, Davis sold the rights to both patents to Walter Kidder, a physician in Lowell, Massachusetts, allegedly for $4000. Advertisements for DAVIS’ (later DAVIS & KIDDER’S) PATENT MAGNETO-ELECTRIC MACHINE, FOR NERVOUS DISEASES were soon to be seen. By 1857, the business was in the hands of William H. Burnap (b. 1825), also of Lowell. By 1865, Burnap was working in New York City, and advertising as “Manufacturer of Davis & Kidder’s Electric Machines.”
This magneto-electric machine—clearly based on the Davis & Kidder model—sits in a rectangular wood box with dovetailed corners but no brass fittings. The paper label is marked “IMPROVED / PATENT MAGNETO ELECTRIC MACHINE / FOR NERVOUS DISEASES.” Also, “FIRST PRIZE MEDAL / LONDON 1862” at lower left; and “SILVER MEDAL / PARIS 1878” at lower right. This was made by Joseph Gray & Co., a firm in Sheffield, England, that specialized in the manufacture of surgical instruments.
Currently not on view
Object Name
electrotherapeutic apparatus
machine, electromagnetic
date made
around 1880
Joseph Gray and Son
place made
United Kingdom: England, Sheffield
overall: 5 3/4 in x 10 1/2 in x 4 13/16 in; 14.605 cm x 26.67 cm x 12.22375 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Medicine
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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